Recession hits video gamers: playing more, spending less

7 July 2009

A while back, we said that video games were a recession-proof business. But in the last few months, the sales of new video games have flattened.

People say the recession is catching up to the game industry. But according to a new Nielsen study, gamers are actually playing more than ever.

The problem? Gamers are starting to wisen up. We are substituting the purchase of new titles with used ones and subscribing to game rental services instead.

Nielsen research on 24,000 gamers who spend at least an hour a week on their home consoles and PCs playing games revealed interesting data. More than half of those surveyed say that they have been negatively affected by the global recession, but 42% of gamers between the ages of 7-54 showed that they are playing, or planning to play, more games than ever in these tough times. 41% say that they will play the same amount as last year. This composed mostly of 35+ adults who maturely stated, "I am choosing this kind of entertainment less this year".

The industry has been relatively less impacted by the recession when compared to others. DVD purchases in January remained unchanged, and movies seen in the last 2 months was down 3%. But the total games purchased by consumers on average increased by 18%, while hours of gameplay per week has gone up by 13%. 35% of those surveyed are spending, or planning to spend, more on buying games this year, while 39% said they will spend the same.

Spending more time glued to our Wiis and PS3s should be good news for gaming companies, but they are finding that money-conscious gamers are shifting away from the purchase of new games. According to The NPD Group, new game sales are lower this year than 2008. Instead, used games are at an all time high for sales in 2009 compared to data from as far back as 2006.

Another reason why new game sales could be down in 2009 is that there were many more blockbuster hits in 2008 than 2009. But blockbusters don't necessarily make better games. As an interesting side note, 34% of those who said they are playing more games this year than the main reason is 'liking the games more this year'.

What about you? Are you spending more or less time playing video games, or have moved on to twittering and free entertainment mediums instead? If you are still gaming, are you spending more on purchase of used games or subscribing to rental services? Are there any tricks that you have that can help cut down on spending with video games? Let's hear them!

TOPICS:   Games   Economy


  • SimbaK2K
    Definately renting games & blu-rays. Buying is just so expensive and its a place where its pretty easy to cut back. Instead of £30 on a game and maybe £20 on a blu-ray film I pay £15 and get any 2 discs at a time from lovefilm. If the game is crap it goes back and I get something else (instead of selling it on) and films I only ever watch once anyway. However I do still purchase iphone apps and games but these are reasonable cheap anyway aswell as the odd other game by steam or online purchase.
  • The B.
    I just wait a couple of months until it drops to about £15, I picked up Heavenly Sword in HMV for £7 the other day, I have a queue of games I'm waiting to play so I can wait 6 months for the price to drop.
  • N20Y1D
    SimbaK2K - why not just use a 3 month free trial code?
  • N20Y1D
    Real Bob, you waited a bit longer than "a couple of month" for heavenly sword.
  • Matt B.
    Like many others I bought so many games in the last couple of years i'm spending the time catching up. Last year was excessive! Looking forward to a few new titles later in the year though.
  • Gary g.
    Bob has it spot on, I'm sick of paying £40 for a game on the day of release only to have it hit £20 within a month. I've picked up games cheaper months later, for example I reckon within the next month the price of Call f Juarez Bound in Blood will break the £20 boundary whether that be online or in stores.
  • PC G.
    You can exchange all formats of games at shops like CEX, Gamestation, Chips, and Gamestar. Even lets you send in your old games as part trade for new ones. In these shops you just exchange a game for a second hand version of what you want, which means paying just a few extra quid. You even find new releases turning up only a few weeks later as second hand in these shops for half the retail price. Rental is okay, but some games take weeks or months to finish and enjoy fully.
  • Rubisco
    People are starting to realise that paying 5 times more for a game than for a CD or DVD is stupid. It's just a disc, it doesn't cost any more to manufacture. Games prices have been artificially inflated since they stopped being stored on expensive cartridges and it's taken a recession to wake people up to this fact.
  • The B.
    Heavenly Sword was something I wasn't too worried about, I'd missed all of the £5 deals when they were on and popped in randomly to HMV, it was £7 so I bought it, it's not as though I actively sought it out.
  • ctuk
    I don't mind paying full price for a pre-order of a "good game" e.g. Call of Duty. but it does annoy me when they decide to set the RRP as £54.99 to push up the actual sale price of a game.
  • Video B.
    [...] other day, we mentioned that video gamers are buying fewer new titles and are renting more games to support their habit during the current recession, yet they actually spend more time playing than [...]

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